Tuesday, January 15, 2019

New Recycling Solution

One of my goals for the new year is to 
improve our recycling efforts for 2019.
We've been recycling for quite a while,
but recent changes have enticed me to rethink our system.
We stopped our private curbside garbage pick-up when they ended their recycling program.
Since our county still recycles, but doesn't offer curbside pick-up for our area,
we are responsible for bringing our trash and recycled items to the dump.
It didn't make sense to me to pay for trash pick-up
if we would still have to visit the dump to recycle our household items.
By visiting the trash station every week,
it really made an impression on me.
So much garbage, and it just keeps coming!

With the news that many countries that formerly accepted our recyclables 
will not continue to do so,
it's imperative that we find another solution.
Even though we are still personally working to recycle as much as possible,
seeing all the garbage being left there
(many things that could be recycled),
made me want to do more.

So, for 2019, I have a three-tiered approach
to decrease even our recycled items.

1.  When making purchases, pay attention to packaging.
Buy in bulk when possible or purchase items with the least amount of packaging possible.
Of course, we already bring our own bags when going shopping.
Just say no to those plastic bags!

2.  Although it is ultra convenient, order less online.
Buying local allows you to have a bit more control over packaging
because boxes and packing materials aren't necessary.
This not only helps the environment,
but it's better for the local economy.
3.  Whenever possible, bring your own containers to stores for purchases,
or personal dishes, bowls or jars for take-away food from restaurants.
The benefit of the latter idea is that it can save the eatery money 
on take-away containers.

Here is a great website to help us all do a better job of recycling.
From their website:
"Variation in recycling programs, unclear labeling, and inaccurate recyclability claims 
make proper recycling a challenge. 
The How2Recycle label was created to provide consistent and transparent 
on-package recycling information to consumers in North America."

They have some great info on their website
and search engines to find out what's available in your area.
For instance, did you know that there are designated store drop-off locations
where you can bring air pillows, stretchy plastic, bread wrappers and food storage bags?
Since most community recycle programs don't take these items,
it's good to know that there is a place conveniently located
that will pass them on to the proper place.

We shop at the big box stores as infrequently as possible,
but at least it's good to know that they are participating
in this program and are readily available to take these items.

We may not be able to completely do away with plastic,
but I am thankful that we can responsibly recycle most of what we use.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Garden Friday

It's Garden Friday!
Although things have slowed to a crawl in the veggie beds,
I discovered something so amazing, 
I just had to share!

This is a camelia bush that was here when we bought the property.
It stands alone on the north facade of the house,
which is our wooded backyard.
It barely gets noticed,
unless I'm making a trip to the compost bin.

 Well, this week it grabbed my attention.
It's mid-January, c-o-o-o-o-l-d out there,
and lookee what I found.
After asking a friend about the habits of these plants,
(she has several on her property),
I was told that some varieties usually bloom around Christmas.
Well, this gal is definitely strutting her stuff!

 With so many deciduous trees and dormant plants around us,
I never expected to see this beauty take off.
This shrub enjoys part shade and protection from cold winds
back behind the house.
Camelias prefer slightly acidic soil,
and appreciate a layer of mulch to retain moisture.
Goodness knows, 
there is enough leaf debris back there,
to keep it insulated.
I don't think I have ever purposely watered this plant,
so they must be fairly self-sufficient.

 With more blossoms on the way,
we have much to look forward to.
After blooms drop near early spring,
it will get a good dose of fertilizer.
That should ensure that we continue to get blooms each year
when everything else is looking rather drab.
This will also be a great time to prune back any dead wood
or thin out the branches to allow for better aeration.
I may just have to pick up a few more
since they seem to like this spot.
It's almost a guaranteed success!

 Who would think that in the dead of winter 
one would have fresh flowers to bring into the house?
What a blessing!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Winter Weatherizing

Here in the Piedmont, we've already had a couple of "snow events".
They call them that here, 
because the cities around here are not equipped for snowy and icy conditions.

Literally, things just shut down and folks stay home from work or school 
if there's more than 1/2 inch of snow on the ground.
It's not such a bad thing.
It gives those of us who relish our time outdoors some fun in the snow,
and forces us gives us the opportunity to complete indoor tasks 
that otherwise might be put off.

But, in order to be able to savor those special times,
we need to be prepared.
For us, it's old hat, as we lived in Florida for over 40 years,
and each year had to prep for hurricane season.
The idea is the same,
just the conditions are a bit different.
So, here are some practices you might want to consider
before Ole Man Winter comes to stay for a while.

Outside Supplies
*Snow shovel 
*Kitty litter for de-icing sidewalks and driveways 
*Rubber mats for collecting wet footware

Indoor Provisions
*Non-perishable food like canned meats, soup, cereal, and snacks
*A manual can opener
*Reusable plastic plates and utensils
*Flashlights and batteries
*First aid kit
*Week's worth of prescription medication
*Blankets and cold-weather clothing for everyone
*Week's worth of pet food or medications
*Charged cell phone
*Battery-operated or crank radio

We stay off the roads if at all possible in snowy conditions,
but if travel is absolutely necessary, being prepared is vital.
Here is a checklist of some supplies that could come in handy: 

On the Road
Keep these things in your vehicle during winter:
*Bag of sand or kitty litter
(The sand helps to weigh down your car for better traction)
*Ice scraper
*Jumper cables
*Camping shovel
*Flashlight and batteries
*At least a gallon of drinking water
*First aid kit
*Cash (in case ATMs are unavailable)

Living seasonally is one of the best things
about having moved up to North Carolina.
Our winter is mild compared to some,
but a whole lot different than living in the tropics of Florida.
It allows us to embrace all the gifts that nature has for us.
Winter, in all its glory,
is truly a wonder-filled season.

Stay safe out there, y'all!


Friday, January 4, 2019

Garden Friday

 Welcome to the first Garden Friday of 2019.
Here's an update on what's been happening (or not)
in the garden.

 Basically, things are one, big, soggy mess.
We do have a few stalwart plants making it through our winter.
Our rain average of 46 inches per year
has been passed by almost 20 additional inches as of the last day of 2018.

 If it were a different time of year,
all that rain would do us a lot of good.
But with cold temperatures,
we're not getting much growth in the veggie garden.
The broccoli is barely hanging on
and the plants may be just too old to produce.
They will be resown in early spring.

The carrots look healthy,
with lots of top growth,
but have produced little in the way of food.

 One thing I have enjoyed is eating the sugar snap leaves.
Winter came upon us so quickly that the crops hadn't yet flowered,
but there are plenty of tender and sweet leaves to forage.

 The tat soil is another crop that I will replant in spring.
This precious little thing tastes good,
but there's not much of it.
I will be sure to make space for this Asian green.

 The garlic and shallots never let me down.
They don't seem to mind the 

Next year I will be sure to plant a lot more,
as these are two foods that get used a lot.

Shallots are so fun to dig up.
They are like an underground gift.
One thing I forgot to plant this year was leek.
I'm hoping that I will be able to get some in 
around the end of February and still be able to harvest.
I've only grown them in winter,
so I have no idea if this will work.

 The cover crops have enjoyed the consistent rain.
This is our first time growing these in raised rows.
We chose to add these to the veggie garden
so that we could improve our success with spring crops.
The cover crops are aimed at adding nutrients
and fixing nitrogen in the soil
so that food crops end up healthier.

 This is a blend I got from Sow True Seed.
So far, it's been a fairly hands-off  project
after the initial sowing.
Time will tell if it is worth repeating next year.

 One thing is for sure.
Herbs are my new best friends.
Look at this parsley that was planted for the butterflies.
It has weathered the winter so far, unscathed.
I never knew that parsley could be so hardy!

 Although the lavender isn't its usual stunning self,
the fragrance is still potent.

 And rosemary?
It is untouched by freeze, frost or snow.
I'm considering creating a rosemary hedge around the veggie garden.
The scent alone would be captivating!

Another surprise is this butterfly bush.
Even though it's no longer blooming,
it is still green!

We still have lots of leaves to rake up.
Just as things start to dry up a bit,
we get hit with more dreary, damp weather. 
I'm still pondering what type of pathway to create
here on the back of the house.
I'm partial to pea gravel or river rock.
Most importantly, we need good drainage,
as this part of the property slopes.


We did finally manage to mount a couple of birdhouses.
These are supposed to house bluebirds,
so we'll see what happens in the spring.

Did I say spring?
Right now it seems a long way off!
It looks like we'll have plenty more dreary days
in which to daydream about garden plans.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year 2019

We've spent a quiet holiday season close to home.
Our second anniversary of living here in North Carolina
reminded us of how many blessings we have.
Steady employment.
A cozy home.
Room to garden.
Friends with which to share and grow.
Seasonal living.
It's been a great change for us.

We still have many things to work toward,
and in fact, looking forward keeps me motivated.
While enjoying a book recently,
a unique phrase struck a chord.

"Good things are constantly happening to me."

I'm thinking that's a pretty good mantra
to remember into the new year.
Knowing it is the first step toward 
What a blessing this life is.

May you be gifted
with dreams coming true.
God bless us, everyone.